Holy Cow !!

22 02 2011

DAY FIFTY-THREE : Exodus 31 v. 1 – 33 v. 6; Mark 6 v. 30 – 56; Psalm 25 v. 1 – 7;

Bezalel and Oholiab – Bezalel is filled with the Spirit-Breath of God, gifted in both the ability and knowledge of all kinds of crafts, and, along with Oholiab, they are commissioned to oversee (with the God-given skills of all the craftsmen) the making of all the artifacts and the Tent of Meeting / Ark of the Testimony etc..

We note throughout the Old Testament, how the Spirit of God is ‘given’ to specific people, at a specific time,  for a specific purpose (e.g. Bezalel in these verses). The first person described in Scripture as ‘filled with the Spirit of God’ is a craftsman, an artist, not a prophet, priest or king.

The Sabbathlike a refrain running throughout these chapters, God reminds Moses (and His people) of the holy purpose of the Sabbath, and how it is to be a permanent reminder of the Lord resting after six days of creation. Those who desecrate the Sabbath are to be punished by death ! Whoever works on the Sabbath is to be cut off from the people. The Israelites need telling over and over again about the importance of a Sabbath
(a rest / stop day – how often to you think we need reminding ?)

Moses is given the stone tablets, inscribed by God’s own finger.

The Golden Calf – 
 Aaron is being pressured to allow the Israelites to make ‘gods’, in Moses’ long absence – they say they don’t know what’s happened to their leader. Aaron oversees the melting of ear-rings, and the making of a golden calf – a representation of a god, which the Israelites worship for bringing them out of Egypt.
Aaron builds an altar and announces a festival day of sacrifices and revelry.
Moses is sent down from the mountain, God warning him that the people have become ‘corrupt’. A ‘stiff-necked people’ who have angered God. When God threatens to ‘destroy them’, Moses appeals to God to turn from His anger, to relent, reminding God of His faithfulness to Abraham, Isaac and Israel, and the promise-covenant to make them numerous nation in a promised land.
“Then the Lord relented and did not bring upon His people the disaster He had threatened.”

Moses descends the mountain with the stone tablets, double-sided, hand-written by God.
Joshua hears the revelry and mistakes it for the sounds of war – Moses corrects him – it’s singing / worship.
Moses is livid when he sees the golden calf – throws the stone tablets on the ground and they’re smashed to pieces.
He destroys the golden calf, grinds it to powder, puts it in water and makes the Israelites drink it !
Aaron, who had succumbed to the corrupt will of the people, pleads his innocence, but Moses observes that Aaron had let the people run wild, out of control, and a laughing stock.

Drastic action is required. Moses calls those who want to be ‘for the Lord’. This time, not everyone, but just the Levites, come to him. They are sent back into the camp to slaughter brother, friend, neighbour (about 3,000 people died). The Levites have been ‘set side’ amongst the people.

When Moses addresses the people, he points out their great sin and goes back up to God to make atonement. Moses asks for forgiveness, and is willing to be cut off from God’s blessing and plans. God will blot out those who have sinned, but re-commissions Moses to lead the people to the promised land, with an angel-messenger leading the way.
The people do suffer a plague as a result of their corrupt worship of the golden calf.

Moses and the Israelites are told to move on, and make for the promised land. This time, though, God won’t go with them (in quite the same way as He had before), because He calls them a ‘stiff-necked people’ and God might wipe them out en route ! God is clear that He wants them to know His anger and disappointment, desperately wanting them to learn to be obedient to to His will and purpose.
The Israelites get the message, they go into mourning for their actions and God’s judgement.

Feeding the five thousand – the apostles have returned, rejoicing in what God has done through them. Jesus wants them to rest now – the value of a secluded place and rest.

Jesus, again, has compassion upon the crowds of people following, and desires to ‘shepherd’ them well, spending time teaching them. When it gets late he tells the disciples to feed them. With what ??? They find five loaves and two fish, which, when blessed by God, are able to feed the thousands there.
“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish” (oh, another part of the twelve times-table?)

Jesus is teaching the disciples the full provision of God for everything needed – not unlike the Israelites learning dependance upon God’s provision – His manna in the desert.

Walking on water – Jesus sends the disciples across the lake (Jesus sometimes sent His disciples into danger to test them) while He goes up a mountain to pray. He rejoins them in the middle of the night, in the middle of the lake, walking on the choppy waters (He’s observed how the disciples are struggling with their oars). It looked as if He was walking past, ghost-like, and the disciples were terrified.
Jesus says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
(‘It is I’ could be translated “I AM is here” – a reminder of the way God revealed Himself to Moses (Ex. 3 v. 14)).

When Jesus is in the boat, the wind and waves die down – what peace we experience with Jesus on board in our lives, whatever the external conditions !

It must be the early hours of the morning when they land at Gennesaret, and many people are brought to Jesus for healing. All who touched Him were healed : one touch from the King changes everything.

“No-one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame…
Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths;
guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Saviour,
and my hope is in You all day long.”




2 responses

22 02 2011
Nick Moxon

The OT reading is another hard passage to read and reflect on. Not only does it show the weakness of humanity (Moses only leaving them for a few days and they need something to worship) but also God calls and allows the Levites to cull their fellow countrymen because they had sinned – hard stuff to reflect on. Aaron is a bit weak as well! I felt a bit disappointed by him when I read this passage. Yesterday I read through all the grand descriptions of what he was to wear and what what he was going to do as a priest and then he makes a golden calf at the very first asking! I’d had thought that wearing all the garb he was given, he would have rememebered what he was ordained to do. Maybe a lesson for us all in standing up for God (& sometimes against people) or going with the majority.

23 02 2011

Absolutely, Nick !
I found myself amazed that Aaron didn’t put up more of a fight (doesn’t seem to be any resistance to the will of the crowds) – it must have put a question in Moses’ mind about Aaron’s priestly credentials. Aaron also seems to get off lightly compared to the slaughtering of the 3,000. I can’t get my head around that ruthless slaughter, other than to equate it to Jesus’ teaching about ruthlessly eliminating sin in our lives (‘better to pluck out your eye which causes you to sin, than to spend an eternity in hell’).
In the light of what’s happening in Libya today, it is very hard for us to read Exodus 32 v. 27/28 and not feel appauled at many of God’s chosen people suffering death by the sword, at the hands of their own people, and this being God’s will revealed through Moses.
How far have His chosen people fallen, that in such a short time, they are desiring an Egyptian-like god to bow down to…how quickly they forget God’s saving acts.
Thanks for the comment, Nick !

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